Newly hired Konawaena football head coach Brad Uemoto took some time from a busy day to do a Q&A with us. After four years as an assistant football coach under Cliff Walters, he was hired to the full-time role. The news was announced on Sunday.
HPW. It wasn’t long ago you (1997, to be exact) were a playmaking WR and Konawaena was the only high school for miles. What are the biggest changes and challenges since that era?
UEMOTO: Obviously enrollment has drastically changed going from well over 3,000 students during my era to below 1,000 today. However, even with the fall of enrollment, I really can’t complain about the talent that we have in this program. There are some really talented kids that come through here. Some may mention that we lack physical size, but when you look back to the Konawaena teams in the 80’s for example, linemen were small, quick and full of fight just as we see today.
I really do believe that the challenge we face within our program is restoring the vintage pride of being a Wildcat. When I was younger, my parents would take me to every game. Putting on that uniform and playing on Julian Yates Field was the way I became wired. If you take today’s Wildcats, their youth fell in an era that saw the emergence of Kealakehe and the geographic divide of students. We need to rebuild the nostalgia of Konawaena because I really feel that it was a big part of the successes on and off the field.
HPW: What has being an assistant coach taught you, as you become a head coach?
UEMOTO: I think it’s like anything else in life, if you have a passion for something you want to keep getting better at it. During the journey you need to learn from your mistakes and improve on what you succeeded at. There are no instructions to become a head coach; I feel it’s what you believe in and who believes in you.
HPW: What ideas and values that you learned as a player still carry over today?
UEMOTO: I had the opportunity to play for two great coaches at Konawaena: Jim Barry and Roy Aukai. Barry was a student of the game. He was always reading or watching something that he could incorporate to give himself an edge. Aukai was hard-nosed and gritty. He was a coach that you didn’t want to let down. Between it all, they both demanded your best. I also understood as a student-athlete that your effort and accomplishments in the classroom were very valuable. As a coach, I want my players knowing that I’m doing my best to give them a chance at success whether it is on the field or in the classroom. I want to work hard and give them my best because that is something I will expect out of them.
HPW: You graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in civil engineering. What kind of work have you done since.
UEMOTO: After college, I worked five years as a Project Engineer for a construction company. Construction slowed down and my Dad got sick, which led me to run the family business selling fertilizer and various other things for Kona Coffee farmers.
HPW: What’s your time away from coaching and work like?
UEMOTO: I am 35 years old. I am married to my awesome wife Lia who allows me to spend multiple months coaching as she manages our three children (Trez 9, Breezy 6 and Bronx 6 months) with no complaints. Between my son playing baseball, football and basketball, my daughter playing soccer, and myself still playing flag football and 35-and-over basketball, we live a pretty crazy life. I have pondered buying an RV and just living in the parking lots of parks and gyms. Lol.